Grizedale Petzl Nightrunner

Today was my fourth Petzl Grizedale Nightrunner event, having come second the first time I ran it and won it the last two years.  Last year there was significant snowfall during the event and each year I've done the event the conditions were very different and this time was no exception - drizzly rain and fairly poor visibility with occasional fog patches.

As in previous editions of the race I set off pretty much in the lead straight away so was expecting to just tempo my way around the course.  It soon became clear though that one runner was on my shoulders and after about 500 metres we were side by side.  On the flat we were more or less even or he was pulling away a little and on the descent he would pull a couple of seconds ahead.  Even on the early ascents which are my strength, we were fairly evenly matched.  I was thinking "right, we have a race on here", although wasn't sure whether the runner was putting too much effort in early on as he was breathing fairly heavily.

Forced warm up by lady dressed as a Christmas tree - I was slightly un-enthused as you can possibly tell!

About to set off.

At night it is fairly deceptive as you only have visibility of about 10 metres or so ahead and although there are some sharp ascents early on, they are also followed by some sharp descents; the really hilly stuff does not start until the 2nd km.  As we hit what I knew was the main hill we were still pretty much neck and neck but after about 30 seconds I started to pull away.  As I went around the hairpin at about 3km I looked down and was surprised to see that I must have been already 20 seconds or so ahead and by the top of the hill at about 4km I had a quick look back and I couldn't see any sign of a head torch.  Unlike in previous years I didn't see my lead as decisive, partly as it was quite foggy so was difficult to tell whether I was far in the lead, but also early on the runner I was with seemed to be good on the flat and downhills so was worried with my lack of descending ability that he might catch me later on.

Over the next 2-3km it is then very up and down but I concentrated on keeping a good tempo as it's easy to lose pace without realising at night even if it's flat.  As I started the fast descents (albeit with the odd uphill bit) I was pretty sure I had a good lead and thought it unlikely I could be caught at this stage but kept thinking I could hear someone in the distance.  With hindsight, I think it was just the strap on my head torch making a noise that convinced me someone was closing in!

About to cross the line

Close up.

I finished in a strong 36.18 but was convinced that I was slower than 2 years ago which was the last time I did the same course (last year was a different course due to the snow), but as it turned out I was actually 25 seconds quicker which was a pleasant surprise, especially as I'd say the visibility was a little poorer so sometimes it caused a bit of hesitation.  In the end I was 2.30 ahead of 2nd and 3rd was a further 1.50 back so a pretty comprehensive victory and 3 wins in succession.

Petzl Reactik+ Head torch and plaque

As always this is just a fun event so is difficult to draw too many conclusions but shows my 10k fitness level is at least on par with where I have been previously, if not a little better.  The next true test will be the Wheaton Aston 10k between Christmas and New Year but beyond that I still do not have any firm plans other than just trying to stay injury free.


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